The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Don’t cry over spilt applesauce

The story of how I ran away
Cooper Evans
After running away from her parents, freshman Emma Wycoff sits on a log Feb. 5 in Shawnee Mission Park. Cooper Evans

I stepped through the tall grass and sticks crunch beneath my feet. The pale grass brushed against my hip. I could see the tree line about 150 meters ahead. That’s where we headed. The trees. If you went back far enough, and in the right direction, you’d find our own little fort. A small wall of wood to block the wind and a bench made of smooth branches. All hidden from view.

My dad, little brother and I were going to Shawnee Mission Park, my dad’s favorite escape from work in the corporate world. We went there a lot.

We reached the cover of the treetops and my legs were already a little sore. I unzipped my backpack and pulled it open to see spilled applesauce everywhere. My dumb 9-year-old brain thought bringing that was a good idea. 

“Why did you think that was a good idea, Emma?” my dad said. “Now this crap is all over your backpack.” 

I felt so ashamed. I knew it wasn’t my fault the squeezy applesauce cap was loosened. I grabbed it from the box this morning; it was new. It was probably one of my stupid brothers. 

Like every time someone raised their voice at me, my eyes started to tear up. So I did the only thing that came to mind: I ran. 

I reached the field we had just crossed and kept going. My aching legs propelled me forward. I didn’t stop, and I didn’t turn back until I was finally close to the road ahead. Nobody had followed me. 

I guess they didn’t care. 

The tears were really pouring now. My cheeks were soaked and cold. I can’t go back. I just humiliated myself and ran away. No chance. There was only one spot I could think of to go now. 

I crossed the terribly-narrow Ogg Road and walked into the brush off to the side, along a chain link fence. I knew my dad’s silver Chevy was parked at the very bottom of the hill that the road climbed. That’s where I was gonna go. He never locked the doors anyway, so I could sit in the truck until they decided to leave and would find me there. 


Suddenly, I heard the sound of tires behind me. I quickly laid flat on my stomach and pressed my head against the dirt and weeds. My heart was pumping out of my chest. I squinted my eyes shut and prayed I wouldn’t die today. I heard the rumble of the tires drift past me, waited a couple seconds, and then slowly lifted my head to see the back of a minivan driving off before it rounded a corner.  

“What if someone stops and kidnaps me?”

The warnings my mother had given me when I was younger blared through my head. 

Adam Walsh was a six-year-old boy who was kidnapped and murdered. My mom told me about him, not to scare me, but to make me aware of what really happens in the world. She told me because she wants me to be safe because she loves me. 

Now, here I was, in the most visited park in the state, alone and on the side of the road, with no way home. 


The windy road was surrounded by forest from both sides, so it gave me enough time to hide before they got too close and saw me. I ran across the bridge that crossed the small creek and saw the truck parked ahead. I ran even faster.

I reached the truck and pulled on the back side door handle. No luck. I tried the passenger door. Locked. I ran to the other side and prayed the driver’s door was unlocked, unlike the rest. I raised my hand up and pulled. Locked.

No. No, no, no, no no. This can’t be happening. The one time my dad actually locks the frickin’ doors! 

I heard another car approaching and dove to the front of the truck and ducked down by the tires. They didn’t see me. 

What do I do now? 

All the doors are locked, I’m too far from the fort now. I’d have to walk all the way back up the hill, walk through the field, and into the woods. The bed of the truck will have to do. I waited, listening for another car, before I ran to the back, pulled down the tailgate, and hopped up. I pulled the tailgate back up until I heard the click. I lied down, the ridges of the bed pressing into my side, and scooted up against the edge. 

It was freezing outside, probably in the 40s, and I’d stupidly left my coat back in the woods with my dumb backpack. And now that I wasn’t running, it was really cold. My sweat was frozen against my skin. I hugged my knees closer to my chest and took some deep breaths to calm my breathing. 

I need help. I don’t have a phone. I’m alone. And it’s freezing outside. My last option is to stop a car and ask for help. 

I stay on my side as I hear cars pass.

I can do this.

I hear a car approaching and before I can think, I stand up and wave my hands over my head frantically. My blurry eyes connect with a big white pick-up truck. I see the red brake lights turn on and the truck pulls off to the side of the road. 

Please don’t be a kidnapper. Please don’t be a kidnapper.

“Are you okay?” he asked me, rounding his truck. 

“Um… I’m lost.” I told him. He slowly approached my dad’s truck and noticed how cold I was. He turned around, went back to his truck, and pulled a huge sleeping bag out from the back. He told me he’s a boy scout leader and wrapped the unzipped sleeping bag around my shoulders. 

He then told me to just sit down and breathe while he called my mom with the digits I gave him. I sat there, bundled up in a huge sleeping bag that felt like my mother’s warm embrace, and waited for my mom to make the five minute drive from our house to the park. 

My mom finally got there and thanked the kind man who didn’t kidnap me. She drove me home with the heat on blast while I told her the whole story. She called my dad, who had looked for me on the complete other side of the park with my brother, and told him I was home safe. 

When my dad got home, he was so mad at me. He told me to never run off again because he was so worried, and I swore I wouldn’t. And I meant it.

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